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WALES. Geography.

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Geography

Is a generally mountainous country which is part of the United Kingdom. It is situated on the western side of central southern Great Britain, between the Irish Sea to the north and the Bristol Channel to the south. It is bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean, St George's Channel and Irish Sea to its west. It is about 274 km (170 mi) from north to south and at least 97 km (60 mi) wide, with a total area of 20,779 km2 (8,023 sq mi). It has over 1,200 km (746 mi) of coastline, and includes offshore islands of which the largest is Anglesey.

Cardiff is the capital of Wales and its largest city. It is situated in the highly urbanised area of South East Wales; its metropolitan area has a population of 1,097,000, which includes the city of Newport to the east. Wales' second-largest city of Swansea, also in South Wales, is located further west.


Food

Welsh cuisine is the specific set of cooking traditions and practices associated with the country of Wales. It has influenced, and been influenced by, other British cuisine. Beef and dairy cattle are raised widely. Sheep farming is extensive in the country and lamb is the meat traditionally associated with Welsh cooking, particularly in dishes such as roast lamb with fresh mint sauce. Welsh cooking often includes seafood, especially close to the coast, where fishing culture is strong and fisheries are common. This is exemplified by the use of cockles and laverbread in Welsh cuisine. The vegetable leek, because of its role as the country's national vegetable, is also used frequently in Welsh cuisine.


Music

Wales has a strong and distinctive link with music. The country is traditionally referred to as "the land of song”. This is a modern stereotype based on 19th century conceptions of Nonconformist choral music and 20th century male voice choirs, Eisteddfodau and arena singing, such as sporting events, but Wales has a history of music that has been used as a primary form of communication.

Wales has a history of folk music related to the Celtic music of countries such as Ireland and Scotland. It has distinctive instrumentation and song types, and is often heard at a twmpath (folk dance session), gŵyl werin (folk festival) or noson lawen (a traditional party similar to the Gaelic "Céilidh"). Modern Welsh folk musicians have sometimes reconstructed traditions which had been suppressed or forgotten, and have competed with imported and indigenous rock and pop trends.

Music in Wales is often connected with male voice choirs, such as the Morriston Orpheus Choir and Treorchy Male Voice Choir, both enjoying a world wide reputation. This tradition of choral singing has been expressed through sporting events, especially in the country's national sport of rugby, which in 1905 saw the first singing of a national anthem, Wales' Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, at the start of an international sporting encounter.

A tradition of brass bands dating from the Victorian era continues, particularly in the South Wales Valleys, with Welsh bands such as the Cory Band being one of the most successful in the world.


Traditions

Mari Lwyd

The Mari Lwyd (the Grey Mare) is a pre-Christian tradition said to bring good luck.

People made a horse figure from a horse’s skull, with decorative ears and eyes attached. They adorned it with colourful reins, bells, and ribbons and wrapped it with a white sheet that is carried around on a pole.

The Mari Lwyd and its party would go door-to-door, singing and challenging the families inside to a battle of rhyming insults in Welsh. At the end of the battle of wits (known as pwnco) the group would be invited into the house for refreshments.

This old tradition died out in many parts of Wales, but some parts still act it out and every December you can see it at the St Fagans: National History Museum


Traditions

Calennig

Calennig means New Year celebration/gift. The giving of gifts on New Year's Day is an ancient custom.

In Wales children would call from door to door collection Calennig (New Year’s Gift). They would go from house to house, bearing good wishes for the health and prosperity during the year to come.

This was symbolised by the skewered apples, stuck with corn and sprigs of evergreen, which they carried in their hands. Children would sing and receive small gifts of food or money for their troubles.

These days children still carry out the tradition of calling door to door in some parts of Wales and money is given to them.


History

The history of Wales begins with the arrival of human beings in the region thousands of years ago. Neanderthals lived in what is now Wales, or Cymru in Welsh, at least 230,000 years ago. Homo sapiens had arrived by about 31,000 BC. However, continuous habitation by modern humans dates from the period after the end of the last ice age around 9000 BC, and Wales has many remains from the Mesolithic, Neolithic, and Bronze Age. During the Iron Age the region, like all of Britain south of the Firth of Forth, was dominated by the Celtic Britons and the British language. The Romans, who began their conquest of Britain in AD 43, first campaigned in what is now northeast Wales in 48 against the Deceangli, and gained total control of the region with their defeat of the Ordovices in 79. The Romans departed from Britain in the 5th century, opening the door for the Anglo-Saxon invasion. Thereafter British language and culture began to splinter, and several distinct groups formed. The Welsh people were the largest of these groups, and are generally discussed independently of the other surviving Brythonic-speaking peoples after the 11th century.


History

The 18th century saw the beginnings of two changes that would greatly affect Wales, the Welsh Methodist revival, which led the country to turn increasingly nonconformist in religion, and the Industrial Revolution. During the 19th century southeast Wales in particular experienced rapid industrialisation and a dramatic rise in population as a result of the explosion of the coal and iron industries.[5] These industries declined in the 20th century, while nationalist sentiment and interest in self-determination rose. The Labour Party replaced the Liberal Party as the dominant political force in the 1940s, while the nationalist party Plaid Cymru gained momentum in the 1960s. In a 1997 referendum Welsh voters approved the devolution of governmental responsibility to a National Assembly for Wales, which first met in 1999.


Capital

The current capital of Wales is Cardiff, which was first referred to as such in 1955, when Gwilym Lloyd-George, then Minister for Welsh Affairs commented in a Parliamentary written answer that "no formal measures are necessary to give effect to this decision". Since 1999, Cardiff has been the location of the National Assembly for Wales.


Weather - Climate

Wales has a moderate climate, very similar to the rest of the UK, but it can also be slightly unpredictable!

The mountainous nature of our landscape and the shape of our coast mean that the weather can differ quite dramatically within a very short distance. Weather also changes quite quickly here- it could be raining in the morning and gloriously sunny by the afternoon.

Most of our rain tends to fall in the autumn and early winter months (October – January) so be sure to bring a raincoat and a good pair of waterproof walking shoes to Wales. Our days in winter are shorter and we tend to experience snow, which provides us with some spectacular scenery.

Although it’s not all rain and clouds in Wales - the summer months of June to August are the hottest here and a great time to take advantage of some of our beautiful beaches and coastline. April, May and September also offer some warm days to explore our landscape. Our long summer days also help, it often doesn’t get dark until 10pm/22:00 in midsummer thanks to our northerly latitude.

The temperature in winter months averages around 6°C with summer months climbing up to 20°C. However, conditions in the upland areas can be changeable throughout the entire year.


Places of interest

1. Snowdonia Mountains and Coast:

Snowdonia National Park, an area of "outstanding natural beauty" the Lleyn peninsular, and the beautiful Conwy Valley. History, Celtic myths, magical scenery, Castles and coastline.

Attractions include: Snowdonia Mountain Railway, Port Meirion, Welsh Mountain Zoo, Bodnant Gardens, Slate Caverns, Great Orme Caves, Great Orme Tramway, Bodelwyddan Castle, Alice in Wonderland, Conwy Castle, Caernarfon Castle, Mountain Climbing, White Water Rafting, Electric Mountain, Farm Parks


Places of interest

2. Carmarthenshire - Beautiful Coast and Countryside in West Wales:

The stunning coast and countryside include scenic river valleys and parts of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Peaceful seaside villages and ancient Castles abound in this magnificent area central for West Wales.

Attractions include


Places of interest

3. Mid Wales Lakes and Mountains:

From the Brecon Beacons National Park through the Heart of Wales to the Berwyn Mountains. Stunning scenery and historic towns.

Attractions include: Powis Castle & Garden, Welshpool & Llanfair Railway, Andrew Logan Museum of Sculpture, Brecon Beacons National Park, Brecon Jazz Festival, Canoeing, climbing, abseiling, gorge-walking, caving, Hay on Wye Book Festival, Offa's Dyke footpath, Berwyn Mountains, Lake Vyrnwy, Red Kite Feeding Station & Nature Trail, Cycling Routes, King Arthur's Labyrinth, Celtica, Dan Yr Ogof National Showcaves Centre, Royal Welsh Show, Centre For Alternative Technology, RSPB Lake Vyrnwy , Montgomery Canal Cruises



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